A guest suite at The Newbury Boston — Photo courtesy of Read McKendree
The words “beige” or “boring” are not applicable to The Newbury Boston, a luxury hotel opening this spring in the city’s Back Bay. Richly toned public areas, where vibrant color plays against a backdrop of stormy sky hues, bucks the au courant worldwide beige-ing of hotels.
Located across from the charming Boston Public Garden on the corner of Newbury Street, the city’s best shopping and art gallery stretch, the renovated Newbury is the latest incarnation of The Ritz-Carlton Boston. It originally opened in 1927 as one of the first Ritz-Carlton hotels in the United States. (Superstar actors Lillian Gish and Elizabeth Taylor are two of many noteworthy guests.)
This is the neo-classical building’s second major change – it was expanded by the addition of a connected tower in the 1980s – and it’s the third name change: the Ritz-Carlton became Taj Boston in 2007, but closed in 2019.
Welcome The Newbury, a gorgeous reinvention of a classic
The Newbury Boston’s entrance on Newbury Street leads to a warmly decorated lobby with new gold-veined black and ivory marble flooring — Photo courtesy of Linda Laban
Enter through the original door on Arlington Street, or through the souped-up former side entrance on Newbury, to find a gleaming lobby wrapped in dove grey walls and ceiling, and new gold-veined black and ivory marble flooring.
Behind the discreet check-in desk is “Déjeuner,” a commissioned oil on linen abstract painting by Elise Ansel, who took inspiration from Edouard Manet’s “Le Déjeuner sur L’Herbe” (Luncheon on the Grass). The painting is the beginning of a journey through a splendid and diverse art collection, much of it by local artists, dotted throughout the public areas.
“Déjeuner,” a commissioned painting by New York artist Elise Ansel, takes inspiration from Edouard Manet’s “Le Déjeuner sur L’Herbe” (Luncheon on the Grass) — Photo courtesy of Linda Laban
Yousuf Karsh photographs adorn one wall in the new guests-only lounge, The Library, which was created from space where a staircase was added to the lobby in the 1980s. A hidden fireplace was revealed and renovated as the cozy room’s centerpiece, surrounded by jewel-toned couches, as well as shelves lined with books curated by the Boston Public Library and Trident Booksellers and Cafe, a veteran Newbury Street bookstore.
Yousuf Karsh photographs adorn one wall in The Library, a new guests-only lounge created from space where a staircase was added to the lobby in the 1980s — Photo courtesy of Linda Laban
The thoroughly modern guest rooms contrast with the boldly colored public spaces, pairing biscuit and cream with crisp white for a quieter ambiance. Grey velveteen daybeds or orange couches, and real China mugs with a rich red floral pattern add a splash of pertinent color.
Alongside two spectacular Presidential Suites, the 286 City and Park View Rooms and Suites, 42 of which have original wood burning fireplaces – just call the fireplace butler to make the magic happen – were expanded, giving extra space.
A grey velveteen daybed in a City View Room overlooks Arlington Street Church — Photo courtesy of Linda Laban
Bespoke Byredo Willow toiletries – a gender-neutral fresh green citrus scent – in eco-friendly large dispensers adorn the sleek creamy marble-lined bathrooms.
Also with a lighter, pastel look, the bright, window-lit Newbury Salon overlooking the Public Garden on the second floor continues as a beloved spot for afternoon tea.
The charming new mint green and gilt-edged Limoges tea set printed with images of the cute “Make Way for Ducklings” statue (found across the street in the Public Garden) was originally meant only for the children’s tea set. The design is so adorable that larger teapots were made for adults to use, too.
New Limoges China tea sets printed with images of the cute “Make Way for Ducklings” statue found across the street in the Public Garden — Photo courtesy of Linda Laban
The new rooftop restaurant, Contessa, on the 17th floor (there is no 13th floor for superstitious reasons) is operated by New York’s Major Food Group (Carbone, The Grill and Dirty French).
This space, previously seasonal and open for special events, is now a year-round wraparound glass atrium lined with harlequin marble flooring, baby pink walls (that match baby pink marble tables) and voluptuous murals. Perhaps the most eye-catching element is the chocolate and milky white marble bar in the center of what is styled as a northern Italian grand trattoria, with a menu to match.
At ground level, The Street Bar, overlooking Arlington and the Public Garden, echoes the main hotel’s coloring with inky blue and wood-paneled walls and ceiling, offset by indigo and emerald velveteen upholstery. A dignified drinking space, a uniformed bartender is charged with concocting perfect cocktails, and a casual menu is offered.
A liveried bartender helms The Street Bar, a Bostonian favorite for great martinis — Photo courtesy of Linda Laban
If the new chrome chandelier hanging by the grand toffee-colored marble columns on the second floor landing marks a new modern era, then the handmade Italian blue and clear glass chandeliers in the adjacent Assembly Ballroom honor this building’s very beginnings.
After the chandeliers were installed during those famed Roaring Twenties, the Ritz-Carlton higher-ups apparently didn’t like them. However, once guests saw them and fell in love with the beautiful cobalt blue, they remained in place and that color was adopted as the signature color for the Ritz-Carlton brand.
The Newbury has wonderful history, but now the building is poised for a new great era.